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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs continue to give Albert Haynesworth lots of leeway



If you happened to watch the Bucs practice on any given day during the past several weeks, odds are you did not see defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

The Bucs say they’re attempting to keep him fresh by reducing the wear and tear on his bothersome knee that’s affected him since his stint with the Patriots earlier this season.

Haynesworth arrived in Tampa Bay with a reputation for not being a hard worker and rarely practiced in New England, either.

But coach Raheem Morris said the Bucs’ handling of Haynesworth has been prudent. Haynesworth hasn’t missed any of the six games Tampa Bay’s played since he joined the roster last month.

“Right now it’s about maintenance and getting him to the game,” Morris said. “For the younger players it’s about the fundamental core beliefs and getting those guys better. But we’re talking about an older player, a veteran type of guy and a guy who is 6-5 and 300-plus pounds who have to be able to deal with.”

Haynesworth echoed those sentiments, saying as a 10th-year player, he can perform without regular practices. He didn’t view the missed workouts as a major issue, either.

“It’s mostly just maintenance. I’m just old,” said Haynesworth, 30. “They just want me to go run in the race (on game day). I’ve been in the game long enough to where I know how to do things. If I was a little younger, I’d definitely need more practice. But I’ve seen it and I know how I play, so I’ll be okay.”

Watching Haynesworth play, it seems as if he’s been less of a factor in games than in his first couple of outings in Tampa Bay. His debut against Houston was arguably his best game. He finished with seven tackles that day, including five solos. We asked Morris whether Haynesworth has tailed off in recent weeks.

“The last couple of weeks he’s been out there being productive,” Morris said. “He makes a splash play here and there. He still gives up a little something here and there but he’s gotten a lot better with being (in his gap). You have to keep growing and getting better. We’ve seen a little bit better production out of him as far as being gap sound. If you can get those splash plays at the same time, you’re good.”

[Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 2:56pm]


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